*disclaimer: I’m speaking from an American perspective
“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
― W. Somerset Maugham
I find in today’s society there is this sort of emptiness. Longing for meaning but finding none. Making everything meaningless, and something that can just be thrown away.
I came across this article.
Now to be frank, I’m not a fan. There is this sort of demeaning tone to that I’m not fond of, and I’m really not fond of the phrase “Cultural Appropriation”. It gets over used and not in the correct context. But it has a good point I want to touch on.
I’ve always had a fascination with Dia De Los Muertos, it’s always resonated with me and I absolutely adore Day of the Dead artwork especially sugar skulls. I haven’t really realized until recently why it resonated with me so much. I have no tradition in my own culture, in my own family that celebrates and remembers the dead. Or at least, not anymore. It has all been lost. It’s something that something deep inside of me, something ancient, yearns for. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
Personally, I don’t know anyone who has any kind of real family traditions. I’m talking ones with real meaning. I know mine certainly doesn’t. In the early stages of this country there wasn’t just “white people”, you had Irish people, Germans, Polish, etc. Somewhere along the way where we came from didn’t matter anymore and we all became just white. Now this could be arguably a good thing considering the persecution certain people would get like the Irish. Mixing isn’t a bad thing, but we lost our culture in the process.
Now people are starting to reach out for something, something with meaning. Now it’s become a bad thing to be white, people who try to take pride in their culture, their tradition are thought to be racist. But you can’t touch another’s culture or it becomes “Cultural Appropriation”.
We are told that our tradition doesn’t matter. We find some tradition that interests us because it speaks to us on a deep level, that same voice comes in saying it doesn’t matter so it gets treated accordingly.
This is part of why I think Ancestor Veneration is so important. I think we need to look into the traditions of our ancestors to really be able to find meaning. Once we find meaning in our own, we will be able to see the meaning in the traditions of others.
Now let me clarify, sharing is a good thing. I think cultures should be shared, mingled even. It brings more color to this life and will help us understand each other that much more clearly. But not mingling so much that it loses meaning. That is all just becomes one thing.
The ancient traditions, the holidays, were gutted so much in the name of converting people to Christianity that they lost all meaning. It started before the United States was even created. Industries have now taken advantage of this so much that we have the shell of holidays we have now like Christmas and Halloween. They are big business holidays now, times for them to get us to spend as much money as possible.
I believe traditions like Day of the Dead should be shared but in a clear way, in an educated way. I believe that is the problem the author was getting at, not the fact that white people are sharing in the tradition but that they are turning it into a shell. They are paying no attention to its origins or its true meaning.
I understand where she is coming from in this aspect and I believe we should fight along side her. To keep other cultures from disappearing and becoming one with this homogenous blob. To become a shell of its former self with no meaning.
In this fight we should work to find our own in the blob and pull it out, dust it off and bring meaning to it once again. Not to hold it tight to ourselves in that it can only be ours, but that we can take it and show the world. Share it with others that we too have meaning.
You will find me call it Halloween instead of Samhain like most pagans do, and that is deliberate. Unless you intend to celebrate it with at least some of the traditional aspect, I don’t feel it right to call it by the traditional name. Actually it is a bit disrespectful in my eyes. So while I am limited (living in the bible belt with my Christian parents) I will continue to call it Halloween. That will change once I am able to celebrate it in a modernized fashion of the way my Ancestors who rightfully called it Samhain or Winter Nights did. If you call it Samhain but still celebrate it exactly as others celebrate Halloween then you are now draining what little meaning Samhain has left in our times.
As far as Halloween itself isn’t all bad and in the family sense has a bit of its own tradition. Kids dressing as their favorite super hero, princess or idol going out with their parents in a night of fun and candy. If you look at it closely it is a sort of family tradition. Still very commercialized, but kids being able to be kids and have fun is never a bad thing.
I think this all came out just a little jumbled but I hope the point is clear.